Monday, 19 October 2009

Defending Genocide (Part II)

In the last installment I tackled the idea that the genocide of god was done as punishment for things like child sacrifice. The real reason for it was punishment for disbelief or belief in the wrong god. One can't very well obey god (which is really what god seems to be after) if one doens't believe in him.

So, let's continue where we left off. The next section talks about whether there were innocent adults.
Sadly, these were few and far between. If people grow up in a culture that accepts things like murder and rape, very few will listen to their conscience and go against what everyone else says. Children learn wrong things from their parents and the surrounding culture; as they mature, they become part of the culture and perpetuate it by participating in it and passing on its teachings to their children.

Yet, we know that societies don't tend to function that way. Some societies are more permissive than others, but societies that are free-for-alls of murder and rape don't survive. Why? Because they kill themselves off. It's why humans (and our animal cousins) are still around as social animals. And, worse yet, it's hard to make generalizations like this stick. Does the author really think that this would be the case, especially after the next paragraph where this person implies that righteous people do exist in societies that god doesn't agree with?
However, those who were righteous were spared from the destruction. In the destruction of Jericho, Rahab and her family were spared because she feared God and chose to help the Israelites (Josh 2:1-21, 6:22-25). Before the Amalekites were destroyed, their righteous neighbors were warned to move away (1 Sam 15:5-6). God promised not to destroy Sodom if there were but ten righteous people in the city (Gen 18:22-32), and in a later judgment against Jerusalem, promised to forgive the city if one righteous person was found in it (Jer 5:1).

OK, so let's talk about Rahab (the prostitute), shall we? In the passages cited, it's obvious that she's doing this because she's afraid. We can't really make any moral judgements on her because she's not given us a moral position. She's simply being pragmatic and trying to save her family. In fact, she has to lie in order to defend the spies, an immoral thing to do according to an absolute moral standard. All she's really done is helped god in his quest for blood, which apparently is "righteous" and worth being spared. Of course, she's left homeless and penniless, but she's alive with her family, right?

Do we want to talk about Kenites? I'm sure they were fully righteous people, right? I'm sure none of their adults were guilty of not being righteous, but god spares them because he has a personal grudge against Amalek's tribe. This isn't about righteous punishment (an idea that could be argued to be an oxymoron) but about settling a grudge.

Should we talk about Sodom and Gomorrah? god had to be convinced not to wipe out the "righteous" people by Abraham. Instead of showing god's mercy or justice, it's an example of a human showing god how to be (more) moral and just. And, for Jerusalem, he goes ahead and finds everyone guilty anyway.

But, there's a larger thing going on here, and that is a circular reasoning. god decides who is righteous and they are righteous because god decided they are. So, if god wipes you out, then that means you weren't righteous, and you're righteous if god doesn't wipe you out. It's OK for god to commit genocide because he gets to decide whether it's OK or not, and it has nothing at all to do with morality. We can look at the story of Lot again to see this in action. Lot offers up his daughters to the men outside his door, which can't be defended as moral (except to a society that thinks of women as property). Yet, Lot is supposedly righteous according to god. Of course the angels didn't search the whole city to find if anyone else would have helped them (nor did the spies in the case of Rahab - apparently just finding one person that is willing to help you means that you've found all the people that would be willing) but because god said so, it somehow becomes right, just, and good. Well, sorry, but that doesn't cut it.


Robert Madewell said...

Hey! That picture is based on a verse from the bible. Right? I know it is, but can't remember where it is.

Robert Madewell said...

Ah! Here it is!
Numbers 25:6-8